Conservation on the West Coast

The Tai Poutini or West Coast region covers 23,000 square kilometres, or 8.5 % of New Zealand's land area. Out of that, 19,000 are dedicated to conservation land or 25% of all of New Zealand’s conservation land. Yup you’ve heard correct, 82.6% of the land on the West Coast is conservation land.

Below are a few organisations and projects that help conservation in the area.


Gorsebusters was started in 2021 by Gemma and Barry 'Baz' Hughes, the owners of Okarito Kayaks.

Following the pause of international visitors and during a quieter period in the kayaking calendar, Baz turned his attention to conservation projects on the Okarito lagoon.

They started a fight against a very invasive, non-native plantlife / weed which have found a way into the ecosystem: gorse.

For their first edition last year, Baz & Gemma were joined by 90 volunteers.

This year is the second edition taking place from Monday 4th April to Saturday 9th April 2022 inclusive and Baz & Gemma are hoping to be joined by as many people as last year.

If you feel like getting stuck in, sign up here.


Jobs for Nature / Mahi mō te Taiao

The Government created the Jobs for Nature Fund in 2020, in response to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s intended to both tackle pandemic-driven regional unemployment and the declining health of Aotearoa New Zealand’s waterways and landscapes.

The programme is intended to run for four years.

It created jobs and economic support for people and communities across Aotearoa, while ensuring environmental benefits.

This project has been a blessing for our operators in the Glacier Country region and their mental well-being. It allowed people to remain employed in the region and have a job aside their main activity but also it helped maintained a lot of tracks in the region which have never looked better.

More information here.

Okarito Kayaks2.jpg

Predator Free South Westland

Predator Free South Westland is a partnership between the people of South Westland, Te Rūnanga o Makaawhio, the Department of Conservation, Predator Free 2050 Limited, OSPRI, and the NEXT Foundation.

An ambitious five-year project to eliminate possums, rats and stoats from 100,000 hectares of land between the Whataroa and Waiau (Waiho) Rivers, the crest of the Southern Alps / Kā Tiritiri o te Moana, and the shores of the Tasman Sea / Te Tai-o-Rēhua.

More information here.

Kotuku (white heron) at Okarito Lagoon.


Zero Invasive Predators Ltd (ZIP) was established to develop operationally ready, innovative, strongly supported technologies to completely remove rats, possums and stoats from large mainland areas, and then protect those areas from reinvasion. We call this model Remove and Protect.

The Remove and Protect approach, if successful, will make it possible to:

  • carry out predator control in terrain where it is neither desirable nor possible to construct predator fences,
  • reduce our dependence on the repeated wide scale application of toxins at chosen sites,
  • enable progressive expansion of a protected area as funds and confidence allow,
  • create an environment on the mainland where, in time, ecological integrity could rival that of predator-free offshore islands.

More information here.

Native kereru (woodpigeon)